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Author: Tyler Hudak
System: Call of Cthulhu
Requirements: 3-5 player, recommended for new player to Call of Cthulhu
The scenario takes place on a Survivor-type reality game show where things take a turn for the worse.
I wrote the scenario for a bunch of players new to CoC, but it shouldn't be that hard to modify the game for more advanced players.
Graphic: Island Map
Graphic: Crew Camp Map
A CoC Adventure
By Tyler Hudak (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This scenario was written for players new to Call of Cthulhu as a means of introducing them to the rules, world and mythos of CoC. While the adventure does not involve too much horror itself, I think it does a good job of giving the players an uneasy feeling of not knowing what is around the corner or what to expect next. It should probably take only two to fours hours to complete this.
This scenario will take place on an island in the South Pacific in a new reality game show called "Castaway Island". The course of the scenario should take place over 3 game days. On the first day, the players (as the contestants) arrive and set up camp. That night a huge storm ravishes the island, ruining most of their supplies. At the end of the storm, the players will hear an unearthly scream, and some flying creature will carry off one of the contestants (an NPC). This is a Byakhee, summoned by the director. (See below for more details) When light comes in the morning, the players will find that all of the cameramen are gone, but the remote cameras are active.
Looking around the island, the players will find that the production team camp is ruined and no one is to be found. There will be a few supplies, but not many. The players will have to hunt around for more supplies and shelter before night falls. When night falls again, the byakhee will appear and attack the players, trying to carry one or more off to the director as sacrifices/zombie workers. If the players succeed in killing the byakhee, everyone will be OK. If not, someone will probably be killed or carried off. Anyone killed will be taken by the byakhee to be reanimated by the director.
On the third day, if the players haven’t found the cave-passage to the extinct volcano, they should. Here they will find a ceremony being prepared or taking place. The director is preparing to sacrifice one of the cast (or crewmembers) in a ceremony. The players should obviously try to stop him and the final confrontation will take place.
What is going on?
A year ago FOX approved the production of a new reality show, Castaway Island, obviously a blatant rip-off of Survivor. The basic premise is that a bunch of "castaways" will be taken to an island and made to survive. Every few days, they will have a contest for an "invulnerability idol" which will prevent the winner from being "rescued off" the island. The last person left on the island will win 1 million dollars. Obviously, none of this will ever happen.
The director of the show, Marlin McKillips, received a copy of a new screenplay from an unknown source a few months before the show was set to film. The new screenplay was entitled, "The King in Yellow". After reading the screenplay, Marlin went insane and became obsessed with filming the screenplay. He approached FOX’s execs with a summary of the movie and they agreed to film it on the condition that Castaway Island is a huge success. Realizing the show will never succeed, Marlin decided to increase the ratings of the show by having a disaster occur while at the same time sacrificing a contestant to gain more favor to Hastur (which he thinks will help him get the screenplay produced).
Marlin has also given the screenplay to his assistant director, Edmundo Huckabone. Edmundo read the screenplay and has also gone insane. He has agreed to help Marlin with the show and the foul deeds to take place. In reality, Marlin plans to kill Edmundo after the sacrifice and blame him for the deaths of everyone.
The first night of the show, Marlin summons and binds a Byakhee to his will. He tells the byakhee to go and kill all of the crewmembers and deposit their remains in the extinct volcano where he will eventually prepare the ceremony. He also instructs the byakhee to capture one of the players. He will use the captured person as a sacrifice. As the byakhee leaves to attack the crewmembers, Marlin and Edmundo cast a spell to summon a storm to cover the byakhee’s tracks while at the same time boosting the ratings. After the spell is cast, Marlin and Edmundo are mentally and physically exhausted and pass out in a cave.
The byakhee will attack and kill all of the crewmembers and capture one of the contestants. The byakhee will drop the crewmembers in the extinct volcano core and bind the contestant with rope and hide them in a cave in the volcano. This is the same cave that Marlin has passed out in. In the morning, Marlin and Edmundo will begin to reanimate the crewmembers as zombies to act as guards and such on the island and help in the sacrifice. Their appearance on the cameras will also help boost ratings.
At the beginning of the second night, Marlin will instruct the byakhee to attack the contestants and grab another one for another sacrifice. He figures that two sacrifices are always better than one. The byakhee will attack and, possibly, grab another contestant.
The third night is when Marlin and Edmundo plan to sacrifice the contestant(s). If any of the contestants are still alive, Marlin will not worry about them and will assume that he can take care of them later.
The players will find Marlin and Edmundo beginning the ceremony to sacrifice the victim(s). The players should attack and defeat the zombies, byakhee (if its still around) and the two men.
If the players succeed, they will be rescued in the morning by helicopters from FOX that came because of no communication from the island. They will be taken back and told that there will be no cash reward since the show never completed. However, they will be compensated $20,000 each and forced to sign an NDA forbidding them to talk about the show. The show is never aired and is instead replaced by "Worlds Scariest Cafeteria Food", hosted by Geraldo Rivera.
If the players do not succeed, Marlin will carry through with his plan. The show will go on the air and will be a huge success. However, the screenplay will not be produced as Marlin will attack and kill a FOX exec for suggesting that they cast Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead.
Scenario and Events
Welcome the players with this message:
Congratulations! You have been chosen to be a contestant on FOX’s newest reality show, Castaway Island! On it, you will be flown to an exotic island in the South Pacific where you will work together with the other castaways to survive. Only allowed to bring one possession from home and forced to use the materials provided, you will have build whatever shelter you can and live off the land while in this paradise prison. Every few days, there will be a contest to decide who is invulnerable to being "rescued" off the island. A "castaway committee" will then take place to decide who will be "rescued" off the island. The last person remaining will win 1 million dollars.
The players are then told briefly about the layout of the island (see below) and of the crew camp where first aid and such will be available if needed. They are explained that there will be cameras on the 24 hours a day, both filmed by camera men and with wireless, battery operated cameras in place at strategic points all over the island. This is to encourage the players to walk around the island and explore.
About the Island
The island is an unknown island in the middle of the South Pacific. The island is slightly circular and is about two to three miles in radius. At the east end of the island is an alcove with a beach, which is where the players will begin their adventure. From the beach, leading west, is a dried up streambed that will lead to a path. The path leads west to the crew camp. The players should be told they are not allowed to go near or enter the crew camp. From the crew camp, another path leads west to and breaks off into multiple paths. One of these paths leads to an extinct volcano on the west end of the island.
First day and night and the storm
If there are no questions, the players are flown to an unknown island in the South Pacific dropped onto the beach. On the beach will be their few supplies. These supplies are 50’ of hemp rope, a large, heavy tarp, an axe and a survival knife, one pan and a pot, a large container of rice and a large container of Ramen noodles (product placement). The players will also have the one item that they brought with them (detailed on their sheets).
They will probably start to set up camp. The beach they are on is on the edge of the jungle, with a path leading into the jungle. (see map) The path is actually a dry streambed that will flood when it rains, washing anything in it out to sea. The beach is in a lagoon on the island, the water a deep azure blue with plenty of exotic fishes swimming about. Basically, this is paradise.
Let the players set up camp and try to light a fire (most likely unsuccessfully) and tell them it is beginning to get dark. After it gets dark and the players decide to go to bed, describe the amazingly beautiful scene of the moon hanging in the sky, shining down onto the lagoon. The players, watching the brightly shining stars, start to doze off and fall asleep. Have them roll listen checks here. If successful, they think they hear drums beating in the distance.
Without notice, a violent storm strikes the players. The players will only have a few minutes to decide what to do before the winds and the rain become too powerful. If the players were foolish enough to build camp in the streambed, they may have to make a strength roll to prevent washing out to sea. If the players make it to the jungle, they should be safe and will only be damp. However, all of their equipment will be gone.
During all the confusion of the players trying to get to safety, have one make a Spot Hidden. If successful, the player notices that no cameramen are around, although they may have just run to safety as well.
Almost as fast as it comes up, the storm disappears. The storm maybe lasted 10 minutes. During this time the byakhee has killed all of the crew and cameramen and deposited their bodies in the volcano. It is now coming for one of the players.
Let the players’ search for some missing equipment for a little bit, before reading the following.
You are searching for your missing equipment, wondering what you will now do, when you hear a piercing, unearthly screech coming from the distance. In the silhouette of the moon, you see a large bird flying rapidly towards you. As it gets closer, you slowly begin to realize that it’s not a bird, but some type of foul creature. The creature, with a large, pointed beak on its face, thin, jointed arms and legs with razor-sharp claws and skeletal wings beating, begins to descend rapidly to you, screeching all the while.
The players should roll SAN checks (1/1d6) for seeing the byakhee. The byakhee will dive down at the players, going for the nearest one. If it grabs one of the PCs, they should roll a SAN check (1d4/1d6) as they are picked up and carried off. After the SAN check they will faint. The byakhee flies off with the player, leaving the others. If any players attempted to attack the byakhee, the byakhee will attack back, but only to wound, not to kill. As the byakhee flies off, have a few players roll spot hidden (?). If they are successful, they realize that the byakhee flew off in the direction of the volcano.
Daybreak – Day 2
The next morning, the players will realize that all their equipment is gone from the storm. Stress that they slowly begin to realize that they need to find food and shelter and possibly weapons before that creature comes back. Perhaps the crew is at their camp?
Once the players start to trek through the jungle, have a few roll spot hidden checks. A successful roll will have the player notice that the wireless cameras are still on and seem to be operating normal. These cameras were built tough and lasted through the storm.
The rest of the scenario, up to the attack on the second night and the ceremony on the third day, should be of the player exploring the island to find food and shelter. Some random encounters are described at the end of the scenario to throw in to keep the players on their toes. The description of the island and its contents are available below.
Attack – Night Day 2
During the second night, the players will be attacked once again by the Byakhee. No matter where the players are, the creature will find them. It will once again swoop down and land, trying to grab the nearest character. The players should have weapons now and may try to attack it. The byakhee will defend itself, this time to the death.
If the byakhee is killed or doesn’t return, Marlin realizes what has happened, but is not worried as his insane delusions have made him think he is invulnerable and that the players are too weak and pathetic to do anything to stop him.
Ceremony – Night Day 3
If the players have not discovered the cave passage leading to the volcano crevice, towards dusk of the third night, they will hear drums coming from the direction of the volcano. This should lead them there and they will find the passage easily. On going through the passage, the players will see the ceremony beginning to take place.
The passage opens up into a huge, circular crevice, most likely the eroded core of the extinct volcano. You can see the stars and full moon shining brightly into the crevice, but that is not what provides the light for this ghastly scene.
In the center of the crevice a ceremony is taking place, lighted by a number of sconces burning a green and blue flame. On a raised altar towards the back you can see Marlin the director standing above your captured compatriot, holding a wicked looking knife and looking out into the sky, chanting some words you don’t understand. To his left, you see Edmundo beating on some drums, providing a horrid beat to Marlin’s words. In front of them is the rest of the crew, swaying hypnotically to the sound of the drums.
Seeing the scene before them will cause SAN checks (1d6/1d10) to the players.
The ceremony is taking place and Marlin will sacrifice the contestant in a matter of minutes, as soon as the moon is directly above them. The players will have to act quickly.
If the players attack, they will be met by a number of the crew, now zombies. The zombies will attack the players until destroyed. Seeing the crew turned into rotting zombies, many who are probably missing limbs, will cause another SAN check from the players at 1/1d4. If the byakhee was not destroyed, it will be there and attack the players. There should not be as many zombies if it is there.
Marlin will not stop chanting unless directly attacked, but Edmundo will join the fight if he sees it is going poorly. He has a small derringer (4 shots) and a machete that he will attack with.
The players should be able to destroy the zombies, byakhee and Edmundo and will now have to advance on Marlin. If he sees he is directly threatened, he will defend himself by attacking with his knife and casting one or two spells.
The players should be given every opportunity to defeat Edmundo and Marlin and save the bound contestant (or more if the byakhee was able to grab another one). The only way the players should fail is if they are all killed or go insane.
- Beach Camp
The beach camp is just a beach that the players arrive on. There is nothing special about it except what is described above.
- Crew Camp
When the players arrive at the crew camp it is a complete disaster.
As the jungle path arrives at the crew camp, your hearts sink. The camp which used to stand here looks as though it was bombed. Of the three buildings that are here, one is completely destroyed, with only a partial wall remaining. The second is missing most of it’s roof and the third, oddly enough, is completely untouched. The only thing wrong with it is what appears to be a large satellite, is lying on the ground next to it. You realize as you slowly walk into the camp that it is deathly quiet and no one is around.
As the players walk around the camp, they will have to be careful to avoid some of the debris and glass on the ground. If they are acting recklessly, some DEX checks may be in order.
A spot hidden roll may be in order. If the players succeed, they notice that there are wireless cameras here as well, which may seem unusual since the players were told not to go to the camp.
There are two paths that lead into the camp: one from the east (which the players probably came in on) and one from the south that leads to the volcano.
- Crew Quarters
The crew quarters building is the first building they come to and is completely destroyed. Only the southern wall remains. The players can try to rummage through the remains of the building, but they will not find any of the crew as they have all been carried off. On a successful spot hidden roll, they will find a maglight that still works, a pocketknife, a zippo lighter and a hammer. Each requires its own successful roll.
A player searching may also find an arm that was ripped off during the Byakhee attack. The arm was not cleanly ripped off and bone, muscle and skin dangle at the end. Viewing this causes a SAN Check (2/4).
- Supply Building
The supply building is the next building and is doing much better than the crew quarters as it only has half of its roof gone. Upon entering the building the players will find that everything is a mess, with most supplies scattered about, some unusable. However, they will find the following items that work and are usable:
- 1 maglight - 1 First Aid Kit - Food and Water
- Cooking knives - Fishing Net - matches
If the players look closely, they’ll notice a door half-ajar at the northern end of the building that leads to a basement. While the stairs are covered in debris, the basement is relatively clean. The basement is small, perhaps 1/3 the size of the upstairs and has some useful items in it. The basement contains, in cabinets, 3 machetes, a chainsaw (fully powered), a rifle with 10 bullets, and a double-barreled shotgun with 15 shells. However, these are locked behind a chain link fence that stretches up to the ceiling. The lock on the fence has strength 8 and can probably be broken.
- Telecommunications Building
The telecom building is the last building and is in perfect condition probably due to the fact it is made of concrete. On top of the building is a few satellite dishes encased in plastic boxes (about the size of a DirecTV dish) and bolted to the roof. These are the dishes that pick up the signals from the wireless cameras. The only damage to the building is the front door, which is hanging on its hinges and the large communications dish, which is lying on the ground next to the building. The players should realize that this means there is no way to communicate with the outside world.
Inside the players will find a large room with many TV’s and computers, all on. Each TV has is sectioned into four pictures, each of which is showing one camera on the island. On a large rack on one side of the room is a bunch of digital video recorders, recording everything the cameras see onto DVD. At the northern end of the room are some stairs that lead to the basement. In the basement is a diesel generator, which supplies the power to the building. There are a few cans of spare diesel fuel as well.
Next to a few of the computers are phones. If a player were to pick up the phone there would be dead silence. On one of the computers is a flashing red error message that says, "signal cut". A successful computer skill check will reveal that the computers are networked together, but have lost their outside connectivity.
If the players watch the TV’s long enough, they will eventually see a zombie crewmember walk by. At first, the zombie looks normal, but the player will realize that there is a huge gash in the side of the zombie’s neck. Seeing this will cause a SAN check at 1d4/1d6.
The players may look at the recorded DVDs on a successful electronics or computer skill roll. If the players try to look at the recorded DVDs (all the computers have DVD players in them. There are really only two scenes that will be of interest to them. The first is of the byakhee attacking their camp, which they already know about. The second is of the crew camp, which is described below.
As you put in the DVD and watch it start up, you see the crew camp, undamaged. A few of the crew are standing around, smoking and talking in front of what looks to be the intact crew quarters. Everything looks normal.
Suddenly, the men smoking point up to something unseen in the sky and start yelling. One of the men puts his arms up to cover his face and is grabbed by what looks like the same creature that attacked you. The other two men run for cover as the creature, still holding the screaming man, flaps its wings into the air. You can hear screams in the background somewhere but do not see anything until you see something fall to the ground in front of the camera. Gradually, you realize that it is the man the creature grabbed, his head cracked on the ground. With that, there is a flash of lightening and the rain begins to fall.
Seeing this requires a SAN check (1d4/1d6)
- The Secret Passage
The secret passage that leads to the crevice in the volcano is hidden quite well the first two days. It would require two consecutive successful spot hidden rolls to see. On the third day, however, it is uncovered.
- The volcano crevice
On the third day, the volcano crevice is described above. If the players somehow find it before then, they will see the crew zombies wandering aimlessly in the crevice. This causes a SAN of (2/4). Edmund or Marlin will not be around.
The following are some random encounters to keep the PCs on their toes.
- Looking into the ocean, the players thinks they see a reptilian-type head poke out of the water and then disappear back under the ocean.
- While walking through the jungle, the player sees some glowing eyes peer at them. A second later, they are gone.
- Is the volcano really extinct? A rumbling is heard coming from the direction of the volcano.
Marlin McKillips – Producer
STR: 12 CON: 10 SIZ: 13 INT: 15 POW: 14 DEX: 12
APP: 17 SAN: 0 HP: 12 MP: 14
Important Skills: Cthulhu Mythos: 10%, Fast Talk: 45%, Spot Hidden: 20%, Persuade: 30%, Occult: 20%
Spells: Summon/Bind Byakhee, Alter Weather, Create Zombie
Weapons: At ceremony – ceremonial knife 46% (1d4) – Fist 50%
Edmundo Huckabone – Assistant Producer
STR: 14 CON: 10 SIZ: 14 INT: 11 POW: 12 DEX: 13
APP: 13 SAN: 0 HP: 12 MP: 12
Important Skills: Cthulhu Mythos: 3%, Fast Talk: 15%, Spot Hidden: 10%
Spells: Alter Weather, Create Zombie
Weapons: Machete 30% (1d6) – Derringer (4 shots) 15% (1d6) – Fist 55%
Zombies (6-8) – (Crew member / Fodder)
Weapons: none – Fist 25% - Bite: 30% (1d3)
The following are a number of pre-rolled PC’s for use with the adventure. They should be well rounded enough to be used with newbie CoC players.
Ted Person, Age 21, Video Store Clerk
STR 10 DEX 12 INT 17 Idea 85% HP 12
CON 13 APP 10 POW 8 Luck 30% MP 8
SIZ 10 SAN 40 EDU 10
Cthulhu Mythos: 2% Electronics: 40% Hide: 20%
Spot Hidden: 35% Occult: 10%
Listen: 25% Sneak: 10%
Computer Use: 45% Movie Knowledge: 80%
Item brought to island: Big Book of Movie Reviews
You have worked in the S-Mart Video Store since you were 16, and have no plans to stop now. Sure you spend most of your days playing Everquest on your computer or watching the latest John Woo movie, but its worth it. Hey, who else can quote such lines from Army of Darkness and Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Besides, when you win the million bucks, you’ll be able to buy the video store for yourself.
Allan Golsion, Age 50, Retired Army Drill Sergeant
STR 15 DEX 11 INT 11 Idea 55% HP 15
CON 13 APP 10 POW 7 Luck 35% MP 7
SIZ 14 SAN 35 EDU 12 damage bonus: +1d4
Cthulhu Mythos: 1% First Aid: 10% Persuade: 35%
Spot Hidden: 40% Listen: 35% Sneak: 25%
Item brought to island: Army whistle
As a retired drill sergeant, you’ve lived your life with discipline and know that in order to win this contest, you’ll have to make everyone else live like that as well. You may be a little gruff at times, but you get the job done. If the rest of these panty wastes can’t handle it, then they’ll just have to go.
Alize Poindexter, Age 28, Up and coming actress
STR 7 DEX 10 INT 10 Idea 50% HP 8
CON 13 APP 15 POW 8 Luck 50% MP 8
SIZ 8 SAN 40 EDU 9
Cthulhu Mythos: 1% First Aid: 10% Persuade: 30%
Spot Hidden: 30% Listen: 25% Sneak: 15%
Acting: 15% Hide: 30%
Item brought to island: Makeup kit
You know this is going to be your big break. After all, this is your chance to shine and its going to be on national TV. All you have to do is look beautiful, flirt a little, and you’re a shoe in to make it to the end! You’ve even heard the producer, Marlin McKillips, is going to be casting for a new movie after the show. If you play your cards right, you may make it into it.
Elijah Carlee, Age 35, Accountant
STR 9 DEX 10 INT 15 Idea 75% HP 10
CON 11 APP 10 POW 12 Luck 50% MP 12
SIZ 10 SAN 60 EDU 12
Cthulhu Mythos: 1% First Aid: 10% Persuade: 15%
Spot Hidden: 15% Listen: 20% Sneak: 15%
Accounting: 60% Hide: 10% Computer Use: 40%
Item brought to island: Asthma inhaler
This is great! You never thought you’d make it onto the show, after all, you’re just a bean counter. A trip to the South Pacific and a chance to win a cool million to boot! That is just too groovy. The guys at the office didn’t believe you at first, but just wait! Now, if only your allergies don’t kick up.
Notes – Elijah is allergic to an exotic dust pollen found on the island and sneezes occasionally. He also has asthma and wears glasses (although he can see without them, just not far away)
Judi Branch, Age 25, Kindergarten Teacher
STR 6 DEX 13 INT 14 Idea 70% HP 7
CON 11 APP 13 POW 10 Luck 50% MP 10
SIZ 8 SAN 50 EDU 12
Cthulhu Mythos: 1% First Aid: 18% Persuade: 35%
Spot Hidden: 50% Listen: 45% Sneak: 20%
Fast Talk: 25% Hide: 30%
Item brought to island: Picture of Kindergarten class
Your kids were so excited about the fact you’re going to be on TV. They started making pictures of you on the island weeks ago. They are so cute. Hopefully, you’ll win the money and you can use it to replace Jerry, the classes hamster that died last week in the freak garbage disposal accident.
Joey Fairborb, Age 40, Auto Mechanic
STR 13 DEX 11 INT 12 Idea 60% HP 12
CON 11 APP 12 POW 10 Luck 50% MP 10
SIZ 12 SAN 50 EDU 10 damage bonus: +1d4
Cthulhu Mythos: 1% First Aid: 10% Persuade: 30%
Spot Hidden: 45% Listen: 25% Sneak: 35%
Electronics: 30% Hide: 20% Mechanics: 50%
Item brought to island: Can of grease
God willing, you’ll get win this stupid contest and get out of the crap hole you call a job. Bob’s Auto Repair shop. Ya right. Bob couldn’t fix a hole in his head if he had some duct tape and a map showing him where to put it. You’re the only thing keeping that place around. Maybe they’ll realize that when you get the million bucks and shove it in his face!
Cleo Dingman, Age 45, Psychic
STR 8 DEX 10 INT 13 Idea 65% HP 8
CON 12 APP 11 POW 15 Luck 75% MP 15
SIZ 8 SAN 55 EDU 12
Cthulhu Mythos: 10% First Aid: 35% Persuade: 15%
Spot Hidden: 25% Listen: 33% Sneak: 18%
Fast Talk: 20% Hide: 35% Occult: 30%
Item brought to island: Crystal
They called you a fake. Hah! So what if your predictions aren’t exactly the most accurate? The people on the psychic hotline seem to like you enough and call back. Well, screw them. When you win the money you’ll show them! After all, you foresaw you’d win the game and nothing back would happen.